Respecting people’s wishes

We’re not just respecting people’s time. We’re respecting their voice and their passion.

~ Seth Godin from,

It’s a good post from Godin. This post of mine is a literal tangent from one thing he mentioned…

In cases where “we’re all going to be speaking” isn’t on the agenda, going around the room, (ala “let’s all introduce ourselves”,) robs people of their agency. I’ve heard it discussed that this wastes time—it does. But vastly worse is the fact that it removes people’s agency.

(Agency is critical. I’ll go out on a limb and say that depriving someone of agency is literally the worst thing you can do to a person. All the horrible physical crimes you just thought of, involve first depriving the victim of their agency. Imagine if taking someone’s agency was treated as the worst crime possible.)

I imagine I’m leading some session, and someone is sitting in the space. When their turn comes around… suppose they don’t want to speak? What if they didn’t want to be heard? By saying, “let’s go around”—even if I say, “and introduce yourself if you want to“—regardless, they are going to be seen. They have to speak, to decline to speak. They have to leave the room, or hide, etc. My “let’s go around the room,” literally robs everyone of their choice.

There are of course lots of situations where “going around” makes perfect sense. For example, if we’re sitting in a restorative justice circle, everyone there knows how it works. You’re free to not speak, and you know that you are going be seen. But the vast majority of times I’ve been in a “let’s go around” situation, it’s the theft of agency variety.